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HarvestPlus to provide Bio-Fortified Foods for 200 million Nigerians by 2030

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HarvestPlus Nigeria on Thursday promised to provide bio-fortified foods for over 200 million Nigerians in rural communities and malnourished vulnerable by 2030.

The Country Manager of HarvestPlus, Dr Paul Ilona, made the assertion while speaking with members of the Food and Agriculture Writers Organisation of Nigeria (FAWON) during a training session on Bio-Fortified Foods for malnourished Nigerians in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that bio-fortification is a process of fortifying crops with nutrients like vitamins to fight hidden hunger.

HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health in Nigeria by promoting cassava and maize that provides more vitamin A in the diet. We work with over 60 partners drawn from government, business, and civil society.

It supports the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to breed, test, and release vitamin A cassava developed through our partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Cassava is one of the most widely consumed food staples in Nigeria.

Ilona said that in another 10 years from now, Nigeria’s population would have increased by about 40 per cent hence, providing bio-fortified foods to 200 million people by 2030 would just be reaching 70 or 80 per cent of Nigerians.

Ilona said that it was not an imposed target but an estimation of how the firm intended to affect the feeding and nutrition pattern of Nigerians with bio-fortified foods like maize, cassava and orange-fleshed potato.

“The organisation globally, is targeting one billion people but HavestPlus Nigeria is tasking itself to reach 200 million out of the number by 2030.

“To reach 200 million persons is not a joke, the question is not around supply, farmers are producing and the deliveries of raw material to industries remain the primary challenge.

“If the railway system in Nigeria is working, it would have been a different story, our railway system is not working, the road networks are terrible and the cost of transportation is high.

“We know clearly that we have an environment that is faulty for agricultural development in Nigeria but we should be able to operate notwithstanding,’’ he said.

Ilona said that the strategies the organistion planned to adopt are to engage many more medium and large scale food processors who will become off-takers for the millions of farmers who were cultivating bio-fortified crops.

“We think that if we strengthen that partnership it is going to add a lot more value. We have identified quite a number of multinationals and national food companies in Nigeria who are bio-fortified-friendly.

“We will ensure that industries have access to bio-fortified raw materials and the products find their way to our target population.

“Our target population may not be those living in Ikeja or VGC. We are targeting the most vulnerable of us.

“We have to move the products from the industry to where we have acute or serious malnutrition so that we can truly contribute to alleviating nutrition deficit and eliminate ailments associated with malnutrition and other challenges in the country,’’ he said.

Peter Ejiofor: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Agriculture

FG, Harvestplus, task Nigerians on making nutrition daily business

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The Federal Government and Harvestplus, an NGO have urged all stakeholders and Nigerians to make nutrition a daily business to tackle the menace of malnutrition in Nigeria.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, made the call on Wednesday at the 2019 Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

The NFF theme was: “Nutrition is Everybody’s Business”.

Nanono underscored the need for all stakeholders to ensure that food and nutrition security was guaranteed in the country.

The minister, represented by a Deputy Director in the ninistry, Dr Bernard Ukatta, remarked that the Federal Government through the ministry worked tirelessly to achieve food and nutrition security in earnest time.

He commended Harvestplus and partners for their efforts in working to combat malnutrition in Nigeria.

The IITA Deputy Director, Dr Ken Henshaw said the food fair would tackle the menace of malnutrition being one of the major problems facing children in Nigeria.

He said that IITA, Harvestplus and partners had the passion, mission to improve health and nutrition of people globally and in Nigeria.

“To be able to see the change in people’s lives, especially in children, all hands must be on deck to tackle this menace in Nigeria,” he said.

The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Sen. Bima Enagi, said that combating malnutrition was the top agenda of the Federal Government.

He urged Harvestplus, IITA and partners to work together with the senate committee on agriculture by supporting them scientifically to make policies that would tackle the menace of malnutrition in the country.

“We need more of bio fortified crops, especially rice, which is the most staple food we have,” he said.

Earlier, the Harvestplus Chief Executive Officer, Mr Arun Baral said the purpose of the NFF was to engage likeminded partners to address the challenge of malnutrition through the building of nutritious crops.

He commended IITA and other partners for their efforts in taking bio-fortification to the next level in Nigeria.

“We believe Nigeria can be a role model to the rest of Africa in the leading of food and nutrition security, after the NFF,” he said.

Harvestplus Country Manager, Dr Paul Ilona said the Harvestplus Nigeria team included vitamin A cassava, maize breeders, producers, distributors and marketers of bio-fortified crops across the country.

According to him, Harvestplus Nigeria is a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary organisation working together to achieve its goal of tackling malnutrition in the country, through bio-fortification of crops.

The dignitaries at the event were representatives of Oyo State Government, National Root Crop Research Institute, Mac Arthur Foundation, Nestle, Nollywood, among others.

The highlights were the nutri-quiz platform for secondary school students that pose questions on nutrition, agriculture, mathematics and the sponsoring brand, to spur the students’ interest to learn about nutrition and become its champions.

Others were scientific presentations, exhibition, sales, business discussions, demonstrations (agronomy, postharvest, food quality and safety) and entertainments.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Harvestplus aim is to improve nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology; the staple crops are naturally bio-fortified and not genetically modified.

CC/KM/GY
Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Grace Yussuf

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2m farmers benefit from improved seedling—HarvestPlus

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Mr Paul Liona, the Country Manager, Nigeria HarvestPlus says over two million farmers have benefited from the improved seedling to enable them produce fortified crops.

Iiona made this known on Tuesday in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

He said that some of the improved seedlings were fortified with Vitamin A cassava, Vitamin A maize and orange flesh potatoes.

“Some of these crops have gone into school feeding programmes in Nigeria,” he said.

Liona said the organisation had worked with over 140 partners to multiply the new improved crops and make the seeds available to all farmers.

“Today in Nigeria, we have over 15 seeds companies producing vitamin A maize and as I speak with you, I doubt if there are any seeds left in their storage.

“Because the demand is much, people are beginning to go for it, it was in the past that people do not value yellow maize thinking it was for animals,” he said.

He said that the organisation was working with over 200 scientists to make a stable crop such as cassava to be fortified with other micro nutrients.

“We now have vitamin A cassava which is not just for energy but with vitamin A for eye and vitamin A and zinc maize.

“We are working toward introducing zinc and iron into some of our products, we are researching on how we can combine the two.

“We should be releasing two varieties of high iron to our farmers in Nigeria, we have released two in Niger Republic like the orange sweet potatoes that has gone everywhere.”

He said the essence was to put the power of nutrition in the hand of farmers so that you do not need to start going for supplements.

Liona promised to ensure that the foods were naturally more nutritious, adding, “we are working very closely with the federal ministry of agriculture in collaboration with over 140 partners in Nigeria.”

According to him, very soon, the first phase of vitamin A banana and plantain will be out and there are still other crops that will come out in the near future.

He commended the federal ministry of agriculture for providing support both technically and financially toward scaling up of fortified crops and food in the country.

He urged the Federal Government to scale up its support for the programme, adding “there are over 200 million people to be reached”.

NAN reports that HarvestPlus facilitates the global effort to end hidden hunger caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet.

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Agriculture

Harvestplus, FG tasks farmers on quality seed production

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Dr Paul  Ilona, Country Manager, Harvestplus ( an international agricultural organisation) has called  on farmers to ensure planting  of quality cassava, maize and other seeds to obtain maximum yield.

Ilona made the call on Monday at the 2019 Oyo State Seed Fair, organised by Harvestplus and the Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) in Ibadan.

He said that so long as farmers planted poor quality seeds, the country would not achieve effective diversification of the economy through agriculture.

He noted that diversification of the economy  was necessary for growth.

“To be great in farming, there are basic things farmers must do, the issue of planting improved seeds is so important because it will improve the country’s agricultural sector and project Nigeria as a great nation, by extension.

“Harvestplus partners have over 3,000 varieties of cassava, thousands of maize seeds; farmers are free to visit us, as they will surely have access to quality seeds to plant.

“Our cassava varieties can get you three tonnes to 70 tons for harvesting, before you apply fertilizer, pesticides, endeavor to plant quality seeds; if your seeds are not quality ones, efforts to control weeds may be in vain,” he said.

He said that the seed fair was to serve as a platform to bridge demand and supply gaps of seed  by ensuring that farmers would have access to quality seeds at affordable prices at the onset of planting season, as well as ensure that seed producers would have access to markets.

The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said at the event that the Federal Government was committed to tackling food insecurity through agricultural development programmes.

Ogbeh, represented by the South-West Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Ogunwale Adeleye, noted that quality seeds had positive impacts in agricultural production.

He urged farmers to prioritise Harvestplus, its partners and other reputable seed companies to obtain quality seeds and increase production.

Also, Dr Hemant Nitturkar, the Project Director of Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava (BASIC), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, said that Nigeria would need to improve its cassava production.

Nitturkar advised young entrepreneurs to engage in multiplication and distribution of quality seeds to farmers through reliable sources to provide them with improved seeds.

Also, the OYSADEP Programme Manager, Mrs Fadekemi Akande, said that good agronomic practices were major pre-requisite for obtaining maximum yield during harvest.

She urged farmers to make good use of the opportunity provided by the programme to better their lots and improve production.

Earlier, the Zonal Director of National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), Prof. James Adeosun, said that the company worked tirelessly to ensure that the seeds were not adulterated.

“If we get it right with the seeds, we will surely get everything in agriculture right, this programme will surely transform agriculture in the South-West and the country at large,” he said.

The Chief  Executive Kfficer of the Senator Adeyemo Women Empowerment Cooperative, Ibadan, Mrs Bola Adeyemo who resigned from the banking industry to embrace agriculture, said that through vitamin A varieties, she became self-employed and an employer of labour.

Adeyemo urged  farmers to embrace vitamin A varieties to make more profit.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigeria Agricultural Seed Council and some other agricultural organisations and seed companies in Nigeria were represented at the fair.

The highlights were vitamin A varieties exhibition, sales of quality seeds and  agri-inputs, demonstration of use  of agricultural equipment, networking, and consultations, among others.

 

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Agriculture

Agric-Tech: HarvestPlus Nigeria to launch Biofort Stat in November

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As new technologies in the agriculture space continue to emerge, stakeholders in the field are brainstorming on innovative ways to attract and sustain agricultural investments.

Technology to collect farmers data across the country is set to receive a boost as HarvestPlus Nigeria builds a marketing portal called BioFort Stat to capture information of bio-fortified foods.

The Country Director of the organisation, Dr Paul Ilona, made the disclosure on Thursday at a meeting of HarvestPlus with Partners Workshop, held at the International Institute of Tropical Research (IITA) in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that bio-fortified foods are crops improved through agronomic practices which increases the nutritional quality of foods through the use of modern biotechnology for crops like pro-vitamin A,  orange-fleshed sweet potato, maize and cassava.

HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health in Nigeria by promoting cassava and maize that provides more vitamin A in the diet. We work with over 60 partners drawn from government, business, and civil society.

It supports the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to breed, test, and release vitamin A cassava developed through our partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Cassava is one of the most widely consumed food staples in Nigeria.

Ilona said that the portal which would be launched officially in November would have data uploaded on the portal at the end of July that would help to spur and sustain investments.

“On the Information Technology, we have built a marketing portal called the Biofort Stat which is conceptualised along Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Stats. Today, if you want any reference in agriculture, you are almost bound to quote FAO statistics.

“After our meeting with our partners in FAO to find an easy way to capture information on the bio-fortified food sector, we thought if we are to contribute to the bio-fortified food sector, data must be important to us.

“Which is why we are complimenting FAO stats. At the same time, use that information to spur investment and help sustain investments. We hope that by the end of July we would have been able to upload information and make it available to people.

“It will be officially launched in November during the Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) to be held in IITA premises,’’ he said.

The country manager added that the main objective of HarvestPlus was to encourage increased production of bio-fortified foods to fight malnutrition in the country.

According to him, the firm is partnering with small and medium scale companies to encourage production of vitamin A cassava and maize for rural food consumption and industrial application.

“To develop products that will be nationally accepted and are distributed to reach a very good percentage of vulnerable malnourished.’’

Ilona also said that HarvestPlus shall have over 100 on-farm trails across the country for cassava and maize that are expected to contribute to training people to get people to understand what agronomic requirements could enhance the yields of their crops.

“The challenge we have is to ensure that agricultural investments become sustainable and successful,’’ he said.

According to Ilona, government and stakeholders must re-strategise about agriculture, as an average Nigerian farmer does not take risks, they hardly are open to accept new agriculture technologies.

He said that this meant, investors needed to put up successful models for new and existing farmers to copy from.

NAN reports that the partners were drawn from states in the South-East; South-West, South-South and North-Central, who shared their success stories so far in the last three years.

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APO

AU Summit: African leaders call for action to end malnutrition by 2025

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African countries have made progress toward eradicating malnutrition and stunting but need to do more to hit United Nations malnutrition targets by 2025. This was the main message of a meeting that took place during the 33rd African Union Summit.

Speakers at a meeting of the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) included the heads of state of Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, national ministers of health as well as African Development Bank (AfDB.org) President Akinwumi Adesina, head of the African Development Bank.

Leaders acknowledged the scope of the challenge but sounded a note of optimism. “We can conquer hunger in Africa,” said Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, one of five African Leaders for Nutrition champions. “I call on all our partners to continue to work with us to address hunger and malnutrition.”

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said leaders should take it a step further. “I have proposed for the AU to focus on tackling malnutrition as a theme for 2021,” he said.

Stunting has declined by eight percentage points across Africa since 2000, an advance on one of the UN’s 2025 targets. African countries have also shown strong progress toward achieving the target of 50% of the world’s children being exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. The other targets are: halting the epidemic of obesity; reducing anemia in women of reproductive age; reducing low birth weight and reducing wasting.

The ALN, a partnership of the African Union and African Development Bank, brings together heads of state, Finance Ministers and other leaders to raise awareness and accountability, and reinforce investment by African governments to end malnutrition among children.

The ALN meeting, held in Addis Ababa on Saturday, offered an opportunity to take stock of achievements ahead of the Nutrition for Growth Summit to be held in Tokyo in December. 

Adesina outlined initiatives by the Bank and African Union to reduce malnutrition, such as the Continental Nutrition Accountability Scorecard, which offers African leaders a snapshot of nutrition-related progress and gaps. 

During his opening remarks, Adesina emphasized the paradox of African malnutrition.

“We have 65 percent of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land. We have an abundance of freshwater and about 300 days of sunshine a year. There’s no reason for anyone to go hungry,” the Bank chief said.

The meeting also offered recommendations for governments to strengthen African nutrition outcomes: promote a multi-sectoral approach; position nutrition within food systems; and spend more to combat malnutrition.

In addition to Rajoelina, current nutrition champions are King Letsie III of Lesotho, who addressed the meeting by video; Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso; Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady of Ghana; and Professor Howarth Bouis of HarvestPlus.

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Agriculture

6,500 farmers participate in 2019 dry season rice farming in Niger

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Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger on Wednesday said that 6,500 farmers will participate in this year’s dry season rice production in the state.

Bello made this known while flagging off the second edition of the state two-day dry season agricultural inputs and equipment fair in Minna.

He said that the measure would increase production of the commodity and ensure food security of the state and the nation.

Bello said for the 2019 dry season rice farming activities in the state, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) support programme is establishing 20 demonstration plots on rice cultivation in five local government areas of the state.

“The support programme will work with 2,000 rice farmers, while the FADAMA III Additional Financing will be working with 1,500 farmers in addition to 2,000 farmers under the International Fund for Agricultural Development-Value Chain Development Programme and 1,000 under the phase one of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme,” he said.

Bello, represented by Alhaji Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), said that government would ensure that farmers, producers, processors and marketers of agricultural produce employ modern methods and technologies along the value chain.

He said that the state was committed to promoting and supporting production of high value crops such as rice, cotton, benniseeds, ginger, sheanuts, oil palm, cassava and soyabeans.

Bello said that the theme of the event, “Improved Agro Technologies for Sustainable Income Generation, Food and Nutrition Security”, was aimed at creating awareness on cultivation and utilisation of the staple crops fortified with the essential micro-nutrients.

He urged the teeming youths in the state to embrace agriculture along the multiple value chain and not to rely on white collar jobs as entrepreneurship in agriculture was a sustainable venture that would increase income and grow the economy.

Earlier, Alhaji Zakari Jikantoro, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said that the fair would serve as platform for interaction between agricultural value chain actors such as extension agents, farmers, manufacturers and other agro-related service provider.

Jikantoro said that the fair was a collaboration of the state ministry of agriculture and rural development, National Agricultural Seed Council, German Development Cooperation and Harvestplus.

Similarly, Dr Muhammad Umar, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that improved and bio-fortified seeds would improve agricultural production.

Umar lauded the state government for organising the fair as a measure to boost food production.

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Ismail Abdulaziz
(NAN)

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Agriculture

Expert highlights steps to obtaining high yields in vitamin A cassava production

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The Harvestplus Country Manager, Dr Paul Ilona, has enumerated the best agronomic steps farmers can deploy to obtain high yields in vitamin A cassava production.

Ilona made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Friday in Ibadan.

The plant breeder advised farmers to always choose fertile lands, preferably with sandy-loamy soil texture, avoid water-logged soils, remove trees and stumps without damaging the top soil and avoid bush burning.

“Plough and ridge the soil, if necessary. This is location-specific. So seek for advice; avoid predisposing your soil to erosion, choose only adapted improved varieties and avoid those that processors don’t demand.

“Stems are living things; so handle them with care; buy from recommended sources, cut carefully into stakes (20-22cm), plant at an angle vertically or horizontally and avoid planting when soil moisture is too low or high.

“Always remove weeds to reduce competition for nutrients with cassava plants; weeding can be done manually, mechanically or with herbicides, depending on location, resources and weed types.

“Apply fertilizer between four and eight weeks after planting for healthy plant growth; seek for advice on types but never apply when the soil is dry,” he said.

Ilona also underscored the need for farmers to harvest carefully to ensure that all tuberous roots were removed from the soil, adding that farmers could also harvest stems for sale to increase their margin.

On the production of vitamin A gari, starch and flour, he recommended the use of stainless steel graters, while stressing that roots should be grated immediately after peeling to reduce physiological deterioration.

For fufu, he advised farmers to always soak cassava in water for two to four days, depending on temperature and root size, adding that they should ferment grated mash for one to six days, depending on consumer preferences.

“For starch and flour, don’t ferment grated mash; wet sieving reduces the fibre content of starch and fufu; press-wet products into cake in preparation for drying, pulverise cake, using grater to increase the surface area for faster drying.

“Don’t dry below 12 percent moisture content for starch and flour, and 14 percent for gari to retain the vitamin A content; mill and sieve to achieve particle not larger than 180mm, using 0.2mm mesh sieve.

“Finally, package to keep product away from sunlight, because light breaks down vitamin A in products,” he said.

The country manager further emphasised that Harvestplus and its partners were present in 26 states of Nigeria to promote the availability, adoption and consumption of vitamin A cassava, maize and orange sweet potato.

He added that its goal was to ensure that that 100 million Nigerians consumed the bio-fortified crops by 2030.

To achieve the goals, Ilona said that his organisation’s extension agents and rural facilitators had received training in best agronomic practices, which they passed along to farmers at the household level.

He noted that its creative public awareness campaigns leveraged on the power of mass media, including the Nollywood, in educating Nigerians on micronutrient deficiencies and benefits of vitamin A rich staple crops.

“We are creating and strengthening demands by supporting commercial processing of vitamin A cassava, maize and orange sweet potato into popularly consumed products: gari and fufu from vitamin A cassava as well as tuwo and pap from vitamin A maize.

“Also we have porridge and confectioneries from orange sweet potato that are marketed nationwide.

“Innovative strategies to promote adoption and consumption include model one-stop shops, where consumers can buy stems, seeds, vines, tubers and ready-to-eat products, such as pies, cakes and fufu.

“Our advocacy seeks to strengthen national ownership of bio-fortification through effective integration into national nutrition and agricultural policies.

“With the help of God, government at all levels, public private sectors and all hands being on deck, we shall achieve our goal,” he said.

NAN reports that Harvestplus works to improve nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It also provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Agriculture

Bio-fortified crops antidote to malnutrition – Nutritionist

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The Head of Nutrition, Harvestplus Ibadan, Dr Erick Boy-Gallego, on Thursday, said

the intake of bio-fortified crops (vitamin A cassava, vitamin A maize and orange sweet potato) could tackle malnutrition, especially in children.

Boy-Gallego said this at the ongoing 2019 Nutritious Food Fair, organised by Harvestplus and partners at the International Institute of

Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Harvestplus and partners use a process called bio-fortification to conventionally breed

staple food crops that are richer in essential vitamins and minerals.

The nutritionist emphasised that bio-fortification was an evidence-based intervention to tackle micronutrient malnutrition in Nigeria and the world at large.

He added that bio-fortification, through researchers’ findings, was a complementary tool in the nutrition intervention’s toolkit to fight malnutrition.

According to him, bio-fortified vitamin A maize can provide 50 per cent of daily vitamin A needs, vitamin A cassava can provide 100 per cent of daily

vitamin A needs, while iron beans can provide 80 per cent of daily needs.

He added “iron pearl millet improves the iron status and cognitive performance in adolescents, vitamin A maize improves night vision of children

and orange sweet potato improves vitamin A deficiency status while reducing diarrhoea in children.

“Bio-fortified crops are high yielding and are virus resistant, unlike other ordinary crops that poor farmers grow and eat as it requires minimum

behaviour change and causes no loss in crop yield.

“Bio-fortification is strongly endorsed as a nutrition strategy by African Development Bank and other agriculture, health stakeholders across the globe.”

Harvestplus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology.

Its staple crops are naturally bio-fortified and not genetically modified.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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Economy

Expert urges farmers to make huge profit from cassava stem business

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An agric expert, Dr Paul Ilona, says farmers can make more revenue from the sale of cassava stem if properly cultivated and harnessed.

Ilona, Country Manager of HarvestPlus Nigeria, told the Nigeria News Agency on Thursday in Lagos that cassava stem business in Nigeria was estimated at over N20 billion annually.

According to Ilona, since the country currently cultivates an average of seven million hectares of cassava, there is still room for expansion to end importation of cassava and its byproducts.

“In Nigeria, a hectare of cassava farm requires a bundle of 60 cassava stems to cultivate and when multiplied by seven million hectares of cassava farm annually, that gives us 420 million bundles.

“A bundle of 60 stems of one meter-long each currently sells at N500. Since we plant seven million hectares for cassava annually, in monetary terms, 420 million bundles multiplied by N500, that translates to N20 billion annually.

“The cassava sector is a very profitable sector, from the stem, to the tuber and to the processed food, even to those who distribute the products.

“There is the need for farmers to make more revenue from the stem, if properly cultivated and harnessed,” Ilona said.

He said that some investors had become major aggregators in the cassava seed sector (stem)and urged more farmers to look into it to enhance their revenue.

According to him, cassava stem business is a lot more advanced in the south-eastern and south-southern states of the country because they had problems with the availability of fertile land.

He urged other zones to key into it because the cassava stem sector was a multi-billion naira sector.

The country-manager announced that the 5th Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) scheduled for Nov. 13 to 15 in Ibadan, would, among others, discuss the issue with stakeholders at the event.

He said that this year’s theme is: Nutrition is Everyone’s Business.

Ilona said that the official unveiling of the Smart Mother Initiative would also take place at the event to ensure a paradigm shift in culture-driven food to nutrition-focused food.

According to Ilona, the fair will create over 3,000 jobs going by the feedback and activities from previous fairs.

HarvestPlus Nigeria promotes cassava and maize that provides more vitamin A in the diet.

The firm works with over 60 partners drawn from government, business, and civil society.

It also supports the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to breed, test, and release vitamin A cassava developed through partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Cassava is one of the most widely consumed food staples in Nigeria. 

ITM/JI/WOJ


Editing by Joe Idika/Wale Ojetimi

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Agriculture

Stakeholders set to tackle malnutrition through food fair

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Harvestplus, an international agricultural organisation, says the upcoming the 2019 Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) is aimed at tackling the malnutrition in the country.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 2019 NFF with the theme: Nutrition is Everyone’s Business will hold from Nov. 13 to Nov. 16, at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo state.

Dr Paul Ilona, the Country Manager of Harvestplus disclosed at a news conference on Friday in Ibadan that the NFF was a commercial platform for promoting the breeding, production, marketing and consumption of nutritious foods in Nigeria.

Ilona said that the three-day annual event would bring together, stakeholders from the nutritious food sector including policy makers, researchers, farmers, food processors among others to showcase and market innovations.

He said that the event would provide a platform that would enable participants to share updates and discuss topical issues emerging in the nutritious food sector.

The country manager emphasised that the organisation’s mission was to develop and scale up the delivery of nutritious crops around the world.

According to him, this will ensure access for children and other individuals who needed them.

“The event will feature an online nutri-quiz platform for secondary school students to answer questions on nutrition, agriculture, mathematics and the sponsoring brand to spur the students’ interest to learn about nutrition and champions in it.

“It will also feature scientific presentations, exhibition, sales, business discussions, demonstrations (agronomy, post harvest, food quality and safety), entertainments, among others,” he said.

Ilona however emphasised that there was no relationship between bio- fortified crops and genetically modified crops, as bio-fortified crops “are products of conventional plant breeding with no invention of any foreign gene.’’

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Mr Sabo Nanono, said one of the major objectives of the Federal Government was to reduce malnutrition to the barest minimum in the country.

Nanono, who was represented by the Director, Federal Department of  Agriculture in the Ministry, Mr Frank Satumari urged government at all levels to intensify efforts in combating malnutrition in the country.

He also urged the private sectors and other stakeholders to join hands in combating the ugly trend.

Dr John Uruakpa, the Head, Micronutrient Deficiency, Federal Ministry of Health urged individuals to always eat adequate nutritious foods.

According to Uruakpa, this will ensure healthy living as well as avoid irreversible ailments caused by malnutrition.

Uruakpa said that the ministry embraced the idea of bio-fortification because of its numerous benefits.

“Right from the farms now, our staple crops are being bio-fortified as their nutrient contents are being improved upon.

“We encourage farmers to cultivate bio-fortified crops; vitamin A cassava, maize, sweet potato and others.

“This is because when we have enough quantities, we are sure of tackling malnutrition in our households which is a starting point,” he said.

Mrs Fadekemi Akande, the Oyo Programme Manager, Agriculture Development Programme, said the state partnered with Harvestplus  to disseminate information on the importance of bio-fortified crops to farmers and stakeholders.

She urged citizens to key into the production and marketing of bio-fortified crops to create jobs and tackle malnutrition.

Earlier, the Deputy Director, IITA, Dr Ken Dashell said malnutrition was a global problem that could cause both severe physical and mental challenges for children.

“Stakeholders really need to think about the ways of addressing this menace of malnutrition, we need to work hard to educate the masses about nutrition and its importance,” he said.

NAN also reports that Harvestplus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology. (NAN)


CC/CCN/GY

Edited by Chinyere Nwachukwu/Grace Yussuf

 

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Agriculture

Stakeholders seek economic policies for agricultural development 

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Stakeholders in the agriculture sector on Monday sought for economic policies that would  help boost agricultural development in the country.

The stakeholders made the call at the 6th African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) Abuja 2019 Triennial conference.

The theme of the conference is: “Rising to Meet New Challenges: Africa’s Agricultural Development Beyond 2020 Vision, organised in collaboration with Nigeria Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE).

Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with the Nigeria News Agency said that no country would survive without  policies put in place to develop various sectors of the economy.

President AAAE, Mr Edward Mabaya said that there was the need to put up policies that would make agriculture work for the over 1.2 billion people who call Africa home.

He said that the vision of AAAE was to support the capacity building activities of members to contribute to policy research and development on African agriculture.

“This is a responsibility we undertake with strong sense of purpose, direction and determination to work with all members and affiliate organisation to spearhead major development issues affecting agriculture in Africa.’’

Also, President NAAE, Prof. Job Nnadu called for capacity building as one of the strategies for agricultural development.

“What we are working on is to ensure that policies we draw are evidence-based and that is where the issue of credible data comes in.

“We need data that are credible and reliable so that when we do analysis; we will come out with things that are evidence-based.

“Our research must be of integrity, so that people will not just publish without any verification; it must have integrity test to help ensure we go about implementing policies to get desired and targeted outcome.

“We are grooming our members to ensure that whatever they up come with is something that we can defend and must have standard.”

The Country Manager, Nigeria HarvestPlus, Mr Paul Liona, said that such conferences were necessary to share update on technologies on how to grow the sector.

He said that no country would survive without a very strong economic policy put in place to address various challenges facing the sector.

The manager said that the policies must have a foundation around various technologies in the country and should be applied economically to meet the needs of the people.

“For us in HarvestPlus, we are addressing economic development along the line of nutrition; seeing how nutrition can contribute to ensuring that economic policies, implementation and management are fused in Nigeria.

“We are also working to see how to diversify the food base of the country and adding value to our food system to sustain our health,” he said.

Liona said that having access to more nutritious food would grow the nation.

reports that the 2019 conference had in attendance leading scholars, policy makers, agribusiness representatives, development practitioners and students.
BOL/GY

Edited by Grace Yussuf

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Agriculture

Expert harps on farming for health, wealth

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Expert harps on farming for health, wealth

 

Igboora (Oyo state) Prof. Jacob Adewale, Rector, Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology (OYSCATECH), Igboora, on Wednesday called on stakeholders in agriculture to ensure that farming activities would be for health and wealth.

Adewale made the call at the Oyo State Seed Fair, organised by Harvestplus Nigeria, Senator Adeyemo Women Empowerment Cooperatives (SAWEC), Ibadan; Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) and other partners.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the fair entitled “Farming for Health and Wealth”, was held at OYSCATECH, Igboora.

Adewale noted that  the latest forecast by the Food and Agricultural Organisation showed that Nigeria’s efforts to achieve zero hunger by 2030 were being undermined.

“Hunger is ravaging the land, Boko Haram insurgency has worsened the situation; all hands need to be on deck to improve food production and develop agriculture,” he said.

According to him, farming for health exists when all stakeholders at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for active and healthy life.

The Chief Executive Officer of SAWEC, Mrs Bola Adeyemo, said at the fair  that it  was to serve as a platform to bridge demand and supply gaps in the seed sector.

She added that it was aimed at  ensuring that farmers would have access to quality seeds at affordable prices at the onset of planting season, while seed producers would have access to markets.

Adeyemo urged OYSCATECH to deepen its relationship with Harvestplus and its partners to fight hidden hunger and tackle malnutrition in the country.

Adeyemo, who retired from the banking profession to embrace agriculture, urged  more Nigerians to engage more in agriculture, especially processing and production of Vitamin A products to make more profits.

She said that  she became self-employed and an employer of labour through engagement in the production of Vitamin A products.

The Harvestplus Country Manager, Dr Paul Ilona, said that the organisation desired to have a better relationship with OYSCATECH to regularly train students on different processes of Vitamin A products and value chain.

“Our aim is to reach as many as possible on the production and intake of Vitamin A products such as cassava, maize, others, to tackle malnutrition  and improve the livelihood and income of farmers,” he said.

Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer of Cato Foods, Osun, Mr Pelumi Aribisala, remarked that a lot of opportunities and profits existed in agriculture and agri-business.

The food processor urged youths to engage in agri-business to improve their lots instead  of waiting for white collar jobs or engaging in kidnapping, yahoo fraud and other vices.

NAN reports that the highpoint  of the occasion was the sale and exhibition of improved, quality seeds of Vitamin A-fortified cassava, maize, sweet potato, yam, plantain, banana, pepper, among others.

The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry, breeders, seed companies, rural fabricators and other stakeholders in agriculture were represented at the fair.

NAN further reports that Harvestplus, an international agricultural organisation improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

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Agriculture

Redefine democracy to also apply to food, nutrition – agriculturist

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As Nigeria deepens democracy, agriculture experts  have called on governments to train more farmers to produce improved, nutritious foods for local consumption and export.

They made the call in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Wednesday.

The Country Manager of Harvestplus Nigeria, Dr Paul Ilona, said  the country should see democratic development in terms of people’s improved  contributions to economic development.

He said that democracy should be redefined to not only apply to politics but also to other aspects of life, including agriculture.

According to Ilona, malnutrition must be tackled urgently in the country because individuals will not be able to add value to the development of the country when malnourished.

“We need to start looking at dynamics of democracy – food and nutrition democracy. In Nigeria for instance, there is no choice of food as people eat what they find, not what they need.

“The primary area of agriculture should be food and nutrition because you are what you eat; there are problems everywhere in the country because of poor nutrition; the more malnourished we are, the more crises we face.

“We should begin to look at democracy in line with development, not majorly on politics, we dwell too much on politics, and that is  why we are not developing.

“If the incoming governments consider all these and get them.right, we will surely change and improve the economy,” he said.

Prof.  Veronica Obatolu, the Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, said that food security could be boosted with training of farmers at all levels.

Obatolu said that  farmers would need to be trained in nutrition-sensitive food-based approach; an approach that would take all the food value chain systems into consideration.

She added that support should be given to rural agricultural investments to increase rural job opportunities.

According to her, the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) and the previous  Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA)  indicated that for more than a decade, agriculture was a means of diversification of the economy.

“The larger percentage of agricultural sector in Nigeria are rural smallholder farmers with food production systems being rain-fed dependent, these are poor farmers who hardly afford the necessary inputs.

“This has resulted in increasing challenges from land degradation, declining soil fertility, disease and pest infestation to appropriate post harvest processing technologies.

“Research has shown that food crop diversification and value addition have impact on diet diversity, improve income and food, and nutrition security among farmers, especially the smallholder farmers.

“If the new administration looks at all these and work on them, we will surely achieve the aim of effective diversification of the economy through agriculture,” she said.

Edited by Ijeoma Popoola

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